Do you mean for day trip(s) to go into Washington for sightseeing, or traveling from one place to the next?
The only really viable public transportation from Annapolis to Washington is a commuter bus service. It's not practical for tourists since the buses only leave in the morning and the return schedules are geared towards commuters.
Annapolis is not a good hub for public transportation.
There are commuter buses (Route 922) that leave from Annapolis and go to DC. However, their hours are limited.
NYC is a rough day trip from Annapolis and would probably require an overnight stay to be comfortable. First, you would have to get to the Amtrak line, which would require a cab to BWI (or bus to New Carrolton or DC) and then a 3 to 3.5 hour train ride to NYC. It is not something that I would undertake.
If you are determined to visit these two cities, than Annapolis is not a good location to be your hub. You don't say how long you are staying. If you plan on traveling to DC and NYC during the work week, than Baltimore would be a better place to be in order to visit these cities in the least cumbersome ways via public transportation.
You can take the local Penn line from Baltimore to DC M-F only for a very affordable and relatively quick trip. For weekend trains to DC you would have to board an Amtrak which is more expensive and doesn't offer as many trips. Baltimore to NYC would be aboard Amtrak, and that could be done in a day if you take an early early train out and a late one back. It all depends on your style of traveling. By train, at least you arrive in one city center then the other, not like an airport which is located miles from your destination.
Amtrak runs more trains on weekdays than weekends, but they still have enough selections on Saturdays and Sundays.
Are you renting a car? Many people take bolt bus or mega bus from balt to nyc and back for a very long day trip.
I travelled from Annapolis to DC last March and found that bus 921 run almost every hour from Annapolis to New Carrollton metro station and vice versa. This is facebook page.
For one way they charge 5 USD.
They do not have normal bus. It more looks like a big van. It takes about half hour from Annapolis to New Carrollton.
Then from New Carrollton you can take the orange metro line that goes to DC. It costs about 4-5 USD depend on your stops. This saved me quite a fortune compared if you hired a taxi or rent a car (well depends with how many people you shared the car with)
I think some may be reading too much and others not enough into what the OP is asking--OP will be in the Annapolis area for a vacation (excellent choice, particularly if you enjoy history and the water), not to set it up as a base exclusively for day trips into DC and NYC.
Annapolis may not be a great "hub" for public transportation in the traditional sense--but for a one-off day trip into DC on a weekday, OP will do just fine with the MTA commuter bus, especially since the bus gives you the flexibility of different pick-up points around Annapolis and different drop-off points around major points of interest in the downtown DC area (Capitol, Smithsonian museums/Mall, White House), which could avoid a transfer necessary with other transportation. At $4.25 each way for direct service, it's not a bad deal for a transportation service designed to serve worker bees vs. tourists.
Depending on pick-up point, Bus #922 mentioned above and also #950 not mentioned will leave the Annapolis area at various times between 4:50 a.m. and 7:55 a.m.--then leave DC for the return trip at various times between 12:15 p.m. and 7:00 p.m.
The price is definitely right--especially without the added cost of a transfer to DC's Metro system given the flexible pick-up and drop-off points--and the trip is an hour each way. You will have up to 14 hours to enjoy your day in D.C. for as little as $8.50. Sounds like a great day trip and deal...to me, anyway.
If you miss the last MTA bus back, you will have a challenge-your only way back to Annapolis that I can see would be a taxi ride approaching $100. View MTA commuter bus schedules at http://www.mtamaryland.com
NYC as a day trip from Annapolis is a much tougher one given a) the distance involved, and b) lack of direct service. You first need to get yourself into or around Baltimore or D.C. to take either the Amtrak train or any number of bus services (D.C. options covered above). The easiest connection around Baltimore would be to take the #14 MTA bus to the Cromwell light rail stop, light rail to Penn Station Baltimore, then Amtrak to Penn Station NYC. You could also do this on a Saturday.
And how much time will this buy you in NYC? Assuming everything runs according to schedule on a weekday and you want to try this through Baltimore...
--Leaving Annapolis on the earliest #14 would get you to Cromwell at 6:47 a.m.
--Light rail from Crowell at 6:52 a.m. gets you to Penn-Baltimore at 7:36 a.m. (requires transfer)
--Amtrak at 8:08 a.m. gets you into Penn-NYC 10:44 a.m.
--Amtrak from Penn-NYC at 7:40 p.m. gets you to Penn-Baltimore at 10:13 p.m.
--Light rail from Penn-Baltimore at 10:44 p.m. to Cromwell at 11:47 (requires transfer)
--Last southbound bus from leaves Cromwell for Annapolis at 11:53 p.m. and gets you back to the Annapolis area about an hour later.
So if everything runs according to schedule AND you make all your transfers perfectly, you have 10 hours of total transit time to enjoy no more than 9 hours in NYC for your daytrip using public transportation with a LOT of connections. Personally, I wouldn't bet on everything running on time and wouldn't schedule yourself for the final run for the day of *any* leg of the trip, so that would make your quality time in NYC even shorter. Amtrak isn't cheap either--expect to pay anywhere from $100-$250 for the round-trip fare.
If you don't have somebody in Annapolis willing and able to provide local transportation to a connection point (in that case I would suggest the Amtrak station at BWI airport), your best option for a day trip to NYC is to rent a car for 24 hours and drive it yourself--either all the way to NYC, or to Amtrak/BWI, or to one of several inexpensive NYC bus pick-up points in the Baltimore area.Edited: 12 April 2012, 13:16
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